Feeding and Nurturing the Young

Have you ever spotted birds at work feeding their young? I have several times since I like to watch and photograph birds when I get a chance.

When we visited my parents one Memorial Weekend over a decade ago, I got to observe a particular bird’s parenting skills over and over. Mom and Dad lived in Missouri then and had a couple of birdhouses on their property. Bluebirds had built a nest in one. I hoped to share a picture of the daddy bird’s parenting prowess (he was easiest to spot because of his bright blue color), but darn it all, the shot is too blurry to use here on the blog.

This daddy blue bird took his responsibility very seriously. He worked tirelessly to feed his little namesakes. Time and again he’d come flying in from a distance to land atop the bird house and rest a moment before scooting through the little hole to where his young ones waited. Within seconds, he was out again, taking only a minute’s reprieve before he was off scouting more food. He was a dedicated parent.

Have you spotted anyone feeding the young lately? You may be in the midst of feeding the young at your very own house—and I’m not just talking physical sustenance. As parents, we need to feed our children spiritually, too. Even when our kids are grown and gone, we still have opportunities to pour truth into their lives and eventually into our grandchildren’s lives.

Have we in the past or are we currently filling our kids’ or grandkids’ hearts and minds with the Word of God as we “sit at home and when [we] walk along the road” (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Have we exposed them to the spiritual teaching available in our churches?

We can also help nurture and feed other young ones besides those in our own families. Think of all the children in your circle of influence. Consider also the spiritually young, those who have only recently come to faith. They need us who are more mature in the faith to take our responsibility seriously. They need us to work tirelessly to help them grow and become strong in the Lord.

Let’s demonstrate some parenting prowess. Let’s be faithful to feed the young.

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Psalm 34:11 NIV

*How are you feeding the young in your circle of influence?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Sister72, Creative Commons License

Theme Word 2023: Patience

The new year is here (2023!) so once again it’s time for me to choose a new theme word to help guide me through the year. Do you do something like this? Some people prefer selecting an anchor verse or word.

Focusing on an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—can give me direction all year long and also helps me focus on more fully implementing that new word in my life. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

This year God directed me to the word patience. Yes, I know most people would be afraid to choose this word for fear of what circumstances God might bring into their lives to give them opportunities to practice patience. But the truth is, God has already placed me in a situation that will require great patience for the forseeable future—and patience is not something that usually comes naturally for me.

Thank goodness patience is a fruit of the Spirit. That means as a child of God, the Holy Spirit who is within me will help me grow in patience as I ask him, yield to him, and depend on him to empower me.

I know it won’t be easy, though, because as long as I’m on this side of heaven, I also have my old sin nature waiting to rise up and war against the refining work the Lord is doing in my life. This makes me doubly thankful for God’s promise to all of us to one day complete the good work he begins in us (Philippians 1:6).

Is there a good work God wants to do in your life this year—a word that he’s led you to claim as your theme word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear about it so I can encourage you along the way. As for me, I’ll be over here patiently growing in patience—I hope!

being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,” Colossians 1:11 NIV

*What is your theme word or anchor verse for 2023?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Photo by Girish Dalvi on Unsplash

Comfort and Encouragement for You This Christmas

*I am taking a blogging break the rest of the month. God bless you and yours this Christmas season!

For some of you Christmas may be different this year. Some of you are hurting. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially. I pray my words today will be a balm to your spirit and soul this Christmas season. And never forget—God sees you. He loves you and sent his Son to be your Savior and ever-present Friend.

And now, from my heart to yours:

I’m thinking of you this season, friend,
Knowing your heart must ache,
While others fill their homes with cheer
You must be struggling to just feel normal.
Life’s changes hit fast and hard sometimes
And often knock us to our knees,
It’s okay to take time to rest and heal
It’s okay whatever you’re feeling.
While in the midst of heavy-hearted days
May the joy of Christmas come through at times,
May Christmas peace surround and support you
May you notice things to be grateful for.
And with these thoughts I’m sending love
And hoping both offer some comfort and peace.
May God’s tender touches be yours this season, my friend.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV

*Feel free to share with those you know who are hurting this Christmas but please include attribution “written by Cheryl Barker.” God bless one and all!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mseckingtonCreative Commons License

Are We Among the Last Hold Outs?

Be on the lookout for them in the next couple of weeks. The last hold-outs of autumn.

These stubborn fall leaves will not “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas). They will cling tightly to life and refuse—as long as possible—to fulfill their God-given destinies to fall to the ground with the rest of their comrades. You might say if they had fingernails, they’d be hanging on by them.

As we look at these last autumn hold-outs, maybe we need to ask ourselves if there is anything we’re clinging tightly to in spite of God’s direction to let go. Is there anything we’re refusing to submit to him?

Are we clinging to a behavior or an attitude that the Word of God clearly calls sin? Has the Holy Spirit shone his convicting light on an area we’re not quite ready to let go of yet? Or maybe we’re clinging to a person, a possession, or a goal when God has asked us to loosen our grip. It might even be something new or different we feel God is leading us to do, but we’re still at a point of resisting.

Let’s not be among the last hold-outs from God. Instead, let’s fulfill our God-given destinies. Let’s not refuse him any longer.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

*How is God speaking to your heart today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out Nov. 1st. It’s still not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

We’re Not Too Little to Lead in God’s Eyes

“There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them . . .” Psalm 68:27 NIV

I love the nuggets of encouragement found in the Psalms. I think I could read there every day and never tire of it.

The psalmist David wrote the words above as part of a passage that describes the procession of Israel—God’s people—into the temple. And wow, what a scene of celebration and praise. Singers, musicians, maidens playing tambourines. Dancing surely broke out, too, right?

One tiny detail I don’t want us to miss is who lead the procession. It wasn’t Judah, the greatest tribe of Israel. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

The tribes of Israel were named after the twelve sons of Jacob. Benjamin was the youngest, the little brother (Genesis 49:1-28). Likewise, and as mentioned in Psalm 68, the tribe of Benjamin was “the little tribe,” the smallest in numbers (Numbers 1:20-43). In the standards of the world, Benjamin—the brother and the tribe—probably didn’t have much clout.

But look who was given the pleasure, the privilege, and the responsibility of leading the procession of God’s people into the temple. That’s right. It was Benjamin. The little tribe.

What an example and what encouragement to us. We don’t have to be the biggest and best to be a leader. We can be the little brother, the little sister. We can be small in size, in renown, or in ability. We just need to be willing to serve, to put ourselves out there like the tribe of Benjamin did.

So, if any of us have been feeling too little to lead or too little to fulfill a task God has given us, let’s be encouraged by the little tribe of Benjamin. We too can lead. We too can serve. We’re not too little in God’s eyes.

“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,” Ephesians 3:7-8 NIV

*Has God ever used you to be a leader when you felt little?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free! Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by cbcmemberphotos2477; Creative Commons License